Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Meeting of the minds at AgendaCamp

I've been particularly lax at writing anything here this week for a combination of reasons. However, I did want to share the experience of TVOntario's AgendaCamp London with you. A continuing stream of thoughts from the day and onwards is available by scanning the tweets posted with the hashtag set aside for the day. As promised, I was able to tweet one session related to education (I was scribing at the other), where the stream-of-consciousness tweets are also searchable.

Above is a Flickr feed of the photos tagged from the day. Beware if you click any of these social-media links after Feb. 28, you'll be getting the AgendaCamp Brockville stuff in there as well.
The session I scribed on education was proposed by Karen Aranha, a Glencoe parent and school council member-- she produced the vacant pupil-place analysis shared with Middlesex County council and the Community Schools Alliance many months ago. The wiki page effectively reflects our discussion from that panel. After another round of sessions, the education theme (also pulled from this session) was merged with a social-services one where we were asked to answer the question: What do the changing needs of London's educational and social services tell us about mid-sized Ontario cities?

The eventual question posed for the hour-long live broadcast was more focused on upper ed, with an examination of how mid-sized Ontario cities like London attract youth to their colleges and universities and what they might do to hold onto them after graduation.
I was exposed to some very interesting perspectives during the day -- from someone who didn't think children should be using computers until after the age of six, to a librarian who told everyone who said they thought libraries created good hubs she loved them.
By the end of the afternoon session, the group had settled on a decentralized hub-and-spoke system of community hubs located in libraries and schools. We figured the schools would be a good fit -- notwithstanding the momentum of Best Start, Pascal and ministry PPMs -- since within urban or settlement areas, there's usually always a school within walking distance. The libraries would extend that approach beyond early childhood and families into older families and other demographics within the population that need the one-stop approach.
Will it happen? A number of folks in the afternoon session were movers and shakers (perhaps) on staff within the city or a school board (Upper Grand, not one of the London-based boards).
It would be neat to see this sort of World Cafe / ChangeCamp model used more often. For example, wouldn't it be neat to see it used in an accommodation review committee? Messy, perhaps, but I'm sure the participants would feel way more engaged than they do now.